Friday, February 28, 2020

Well, damn

Freeman Dyson, dead at 96.  Nobody does obits like Dwight, and this one is particularly good.

What it leaves out is just how big a deal he was in theoretical physics.  Among the big time awards he won are the Lorentz Medal, the Max Planck Medal, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, and the Enrico Fermi Award.  That's kind of a Who's Who of theoretical physics awards.

Oh, yeah - he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, which makes him a "fraternity brother" with Sir Isaac Newton.

Interestingly, he did not win the Nobel Prize for his theory of Quantum Electrodynamics.  He was an early pioneer in this field (little physics pun, right there) along with Richard Feynman.  Feynman and a couple others won the prize in 1965; Dyson wasn't included.  It makes you wonder why.

But we've seen Dyson on this blog before: here, here, and here.  Most of those links are where he discussed his skepticism of the Global Warming scare, and in particular the wretched state of the climate models.  He was an iconoclast and a gad fly, and that may explain a little bit why he wasn't included in the Nobel.  Then again, Feynman was an iconoclast and a gad fly, and he was also skeptical about global warming - or at least was quite explicit that science must be done much more rigorously than is current practice in the climate field.

Rest in Peace, Dr. Dyson.  The Lord broke the mould when He made you.


knuckledraggertech said...

I read his autobiography, "Disturbing the Universe" years ago, and was surprised at what a different picture he painted of Edward Teller. A great book and a great man. You should check out the books of the evolution of computers by his son George.

Ed Bonderenka said...


bolomk1 said...

I met him many years ago.A true gentleman and nice person.He was a freind of my Philosophy of Science prof at the University of Idaho,of all places and spoke to our class.It was fascinating.

Borepatch said...

Bolomk, that's pretty cool.

Kurt said...

@bolomk1 - small world!

I was at the U of I for that talk, and managed to snag his attention afterward outside the building for a few moments, where I mentioned the recently published The Next Ten Thousand Years, by Adrian Berry, which blew my mind, and of course the book went on for a while about Dyson Spheres.

He was rather skeptical, but said he'd have to take a look at the book - and then he wandered off.

I was honored that he took the time to chat.

The Real Kurt

cryptical said...

Did he ever get his doctorate? I had thought not, but I could be wrong.

CT Ginger said...

He was a great physicists and possibly the last great physicist without a PhD. He was not Dr. Dyson but he was among the greatest physicists who ever lived.